Longevity is often associated with success.
For Regina Jackson, the president and CEO of the East Oakland Youth Development Center, this assertion seems fitting for the organization whose slogan is "Changing lives one day at a time."
"Exhilarating, empowering and exciting," Jackson said about being a part of EOYDC's long history. "We are in the business of giving. It's an exceptional space to be at and that's why I've been here for so long. There are not that many careers like this."
Next year marks the 35th year anniversary of EOYDC's grand opening. Since 1978, the center located on the corner of 8200 International Blvd. in Oakland, has been opening its' doors primarily to youth and young adults - ages 6 to 24. The center offers many resources and programming so that individuals are prepared for employment, higher education and leadership opportunities.
"We are in the process of expanding the campus, quality program and replicating programs through activities by creating support systems," said Jackson, who once served as EOYDC executive director for 17 years. "My position is that I'm trying to increase participation for young people to stay and get into college."
Jackson's mission comes after the mindful dedication and vision from the center's founding father - Robert B. Shetterly - the chief executive officer for Clorox. Jackson said Shetterly wanted residents of East Oakland to have a place where they could create solutions to their problems.
"We are in one of the most economically and violently challenged areas in Oakland," Jackson said. "EOYDC is a safe haven for young people. It's nice to be able to provide that to them."
Today, the youth center has become busier than ever. Earlier this month, the EOYDC had its annual GED cap and gown graduation ceremony. The ceremony was attended by more than 100 people - mostly friends and family members of the 30 graduates - which is the highest number of people to participate in the graduation to date.
According to Jackson, the high number of GED graduates coupled with the dropout rate for Oakland students declining from last year - 33 percent in 2011 to 27 percent in 2012 - goes to show how valuable this resource is for young people.
"About 75 percent of our graduates go on to two-year colleges and some even go to four-year universities," she said. "At the ceremony, all of the graduates got goodie bags, composition books and a certificate of completion."
Some other annual programs and events that took place this month include a White House and other monuments college tour, where Jackson traveled with students to visit historical sites and Georgetown, Howard and Hampton Universities, and the center's Fall Job Fair, which was held Wednesday.
"We have a spring job fair to prepare youth for jobs in the summer and a fall job fair for the holiday job season," Jackson explained. "People can just show up. We have about 9 to 12 employers from the retail, banking, health and trades industries."
On Dec. 20, the youth center will do a three-hour "Brotherhood Across America" event from 5 to 8 p.m. The theme of this event is "Home Sweet Home" and focuses on connecting middle school kids with high school and college students.
"Those high school kids can talk to college students and middle schoolers can talk to high school students," Jackson said. "They learn about financial literacy, networking and other life skills."
For more information on these events and how to get involved more in youth programming at EOYDC, visit eoydc.org.